Category Archives: Bossa Nova

João Gilberto, the Voice of Bossa Nova, Dies at 88 (DownBeat)

“Look at the wind tearing out the trees’ hair … .”

“But trees don’t have hair, João,” said the psychologist.

“And some people have no poetry in their souls,” he replied.

For my DownBeat obit on the genius João Gilberto, I spoke with Eliane Elias and the legendary Wanda Sá.

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Filed under Bossa Nova, Brazilian music, Chris McNulty, Joao Gilberto, Stan Getz, Uncategorized

A Night at the Blue Note, Rio with Antonio Adolfo and Bossa Nova legend Carlos Lyra

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Antonio Adolfo performs at The Blue Note in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Nov. 11. (Photo: Alexandre Moreira)

Although he may look more like a professor or kindly physician, Antonio Adolfo is, in reality, a killer pianist/arranger and master of samba jazz. In early November, the beginning of summer in Brazil, I went to the beautiful new Blue Note in Rio de Janeiro to get my samba fix.  Adolfo led a septet that features some of the finest jazz musicians in Brazil. And then he introduced his guest, one of the great Bossa Nova singer/songwriters, Carlos Lyra. My story in DownBeat.

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Filed under Antonio Adolfo, Bossa Nova, Brazilian music, Carlos Lyra

Brazilian singer Clara Moreno, daughter of Joyce, re-imagines a jazz samba classic

clara-morenoClara Moreno is the daughter of the Bossa Nova stars Joyce Moreno (universally known in Brazil as just Joyce) and bandleader/composer Nelson Angelo. More to the point, she is a terrific samba singer. Her 7th album, Samba Esquema Novo (De Novo) (translation: “New Style Samba—Again”) on the U.K.’s Far Out Records, re-imagines a seminal 1963 album (Samba Esquema Novo) by the influential singer-songwriter Jorge Ben. He’s the guy who wrote the international hit “Mas Que Nada” (see Clara’s version below). If all this sounds a bit esoteric to you, I guarantee the rhythm will get you where you live. Here’s a “Players” profile I did about Clara from the November 2016 issue of DownBeat.  You can find the album here.

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Filed under Bossa Nova, Brazilian music, Clara Moreno, Jorge Ben

Bossa Nova Pioneer Carlos Lyra Returns to the U.S. After 50 Years

Carlos Lyra at Birdland, NYC, May 29, 2015 (photo: Jack Vartoogian)

Brazilian popular music is so rich as to constitute a parallel universe to the American Songbook.  And in that universe, no songwriters shine more brightly than Carlos Lyra and Marcos Valle, both of whom appeared at last week’s “BossaBrasil” festival at Birdland. Lyra was making a triumphant return to the U.S. stage after an absence of 50 years.  My review is now posted at DownBeat.com.

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Filed under Bossa Nova, Brazilian music, Carlos Lyra, Marcos Valle, Music Writing and Clips

Gilberto Gil Salutes João Gilberto at New York’s Town Hall

Gilberto Gil at Town Hall in New York City on April 23 (Photo: ©Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos)

The sell-out crowd on April 23 was there for a heady dose of saudade for Brazil, and Gil, accompanying himself on guitar, delivered. My concert review in DownBeat

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Filed under Bossa Nova, Downbeat, Gilberto Gil, Joao Gilberto

At 80, Bossa Nova Pioneer João Donato Is Not Slowing Down

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Joao Donato performing in Tiradentes, Brazil, October 2014

Bossa Nova icon João Donato played and wrote with everybody, from Jobim to Gilberto to Chet Baker and Tito Puente. And at 80, he’s not slowing down. This was one of my all-time favorite interviews. To see why, see the article.

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Filed under Bossa Nova, Brazilian music, Downbeat, Jazz, Joao Donato, Music Writing and Clips

Two Bossa Nova Masters Meet at Birdland

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Marcos Valle at Birdland (photo: Fran Kaufman)

Two of the founders of Brazil’s Bossa Nova movement (and it was a movement), Marcos Valle and Roberto Menescal appeared together in NYC for the first time recently.  Even if you don’t know their names, I’ll bet you know some of their tunes. Just got around to posting my review from DownBeat.com.

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June 20, 2014 · 11:05 am